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Blogging Blog

How to write a written blog

By Brian Prawitz

What is This For, Anyway?

A blog is a great way for people without publishing experience to share their observations and experience with the world.

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You don’t have to have a massive built-in audience. The beauty of this form of communication is that you can be yourself, talk about what you want to talk about and add your voice to the overall discussion happening on the web.

The thing is, there are millions of blogs out there and just about as many ways to do this. At Phoenix, we want you to find your voice, but we also need to have some standards.

 Even if you have never done this before, we want you to look as professional as possible.

Over time, your style will develop, your writing will improve and more people will be able to enjoy your contribution.

To that end, here is my first effort at a Style Guide. This will serve as the go-to document for how we blog at Phoenix. This doc will most likely change and grow over time, but we need to start somewhere and this is our starting point!

Determine Your Audience

Before you start writing, explaining or sharing about something of interest, you have to know who you are talking to.

In this case, are we talking to parents, staff, other students or the general public? Your tone, images, language, slang and length of your post will all change based on this one factor.

Find Someone to Copy

This is not a license to steal from anyone. This is from the ‘imitation is the purest form of flattery’ file.

If you want to have a great blog, study someone with a great blog.

My guru for everything internet related is Trevor Mauch from Carrot. If you have a question about what makes people read stuff on the internet, Trevor’s online presence answers every one. https://oncarrot.com/blog/.

Donald Miller of StoryBrand is the industry leader in all things marketing. This link is to his blog site, which is overflowing with great content.

Like Narnia, you might get lost in there.

Set a timer and tell someone to come find you if you don’t return for a few days. Be careful.

http://buildingastorybrand.com/blog/

Minimum 350 words. Max 1000.

Everyone has an opinion on how long your blogs should be. Google likes 700+ words. This blog is going to come in at around 900 words.

Define the Tone

We are going for educational and professional, but not stuffy. This isn’t academic writing.

Be yourself, but understand that we need to set a standard and maintain it.

That means someone will edit your piece, make corrections, and make sure you haven’t snuck in a secret code. Your editor has to be a hard-you-know-what.

That’s life.

You’ll be fine.

Link up!

Use links to share traffic with the people, places or businesses you mention. If you choose to write about a location on the Oregon Coast, add a link to a map that the reader can use to get directions with.

Tide charts, chamber of commerce, restaurants, etc.

Put it all in one place for your reader.

Proper use of visuals

You are not allowed to right click copy and paste any image you want off the internet!

Learn photoshop, or Canva.

Learn how to make an infograph, take a picture, draw a picture.

Anything other than stealing a picture. Your visuals tell as much of a story as your words. More, in fact. Since people spend about as long as it takes to scroll through your piece with their thumb.

The picture is probably more likely to stop the scroll than your headline. And, it might be the only thing they see.

BONUS: Feel free to contact the photographer who took a picture you want to use. You might get a better version of the pic, and make a contact in the real world too. All for the cost of one more step and a caption giving the photog the credit they deserve.

Styling/Formatting

When you write something, you have to make it look interesting. Miles and miles of text in a long run on sentence isn’t interesting. It creates fatigue and makes people want to keep watching kitten videos on Facebook.

But occasionally varying the size of the font, adding bold statements and changing the pace…

Make your stuff conversational.

Interesting.

And, readable.

So we are seeking a tone, or format, or style that balances our need for interesting content and your desire to express yourself.

We can do all of the editing for you, but we’d rather have you do it because that’s what learning is all about!

Let's talk about the content first.

Formatting

At the end of your blog, write a very short description of yourself, with your website, email address, and social media handles.

Brian Prawitz is a freelance potato farmer from Roseburg, Oregon. Follow Brian on Twitter @BPraw88 or check out the rest of his blog on his company website www.gobpmedia.com./blog


Video Blogging

How to produce a video blog

By Brian Prawitz

 

When it comes to creating a video blog, you have to keep in mind that you're still making a blog. Which means we're not going to just plop down in front of a camera, or a phone, and bust out whatever comes to mind.

Brian Prawitz of BP Media Solutions gives his advice on how to produce a video blog. Learn these rules so you can break them and blog your way to greatness!

We have to have a plan, and this has to be deliberate.

That's why I produced this video for you, so you can see what a video blog might actually end up looking like.

You want to think through your presentation, have solid points, back up your work with written content, and post all that in association with your video.

In some ways, a video blog is actually more work than a written blog.

You might even have to ask yourself, "Why do I want to do a video blog?" What's the purpose behind actually using this particular medium, to make your point?

 

You want to think of things on a video blog in a couple of different parts. One of them is the content, the other is the tech.

Let's talk about the content first.

As I just mentioned, you have to have a point. We're not just going to sit down and do a random stream of consciousness, blather, and calling it a blog.

Go back to the written blog style guide, and answer these simple questions: Who is your audience? Why is what you're saying important or useful? Who can you have in the video with you to add credibility to what you're saying?

In other words, have a plan.

It's also important to do some research.

Again, this may be more work than even a written blog, but have some research to back up what you say, or better yet, have the person who did some of the research be with you in the video, and have them give their take on a particular issue, especially in the case of Phoenix School. You could have an administrator, possibly, be with you on a video blog.

Now, let's talk about the tech.

First of all, in your setup, think about what's in front of you, and what's behind you. How are you going to position the camera or the phone, and what kind of backdrop do you have?

Setup to your video says as much about what you're saying as any other part of your content.

You might want to have a dry erase board with bullet points, is a good start, or if you have a room full of cool stuff, that would make a great backdrop.

Also, we're not going to have anybody just holding your camera or your phone. It has to be stationary.

You can use a tripod with a phone holder. That would be a good start. You could also just prop your phone up against something that it's stationary, it's not going to move.

Also, you want that camera to be up higher, so you're looking up, as opposed to looking down into the camera. If you get really advanced, you can have two phones or cameras running at the same time, and then put those together in the editing process.

Now, let's talk about audio.

There are some inexpensive microphones that can be easily installed into your camera or your phone, to make your entire production more professional. Now, in this case, I'm only a few feet from the phone, or camera, and so my voice can be heard quite plainly. If I were to go outside, and there was road noise, or wind, or if I was in a large room with a lot of people, a mic is absolutely required.

Editing

Then you need to learn how to do some simple editing.

Editing software is available if you have a Mac. Actually, iMovie is built into your computer, and in some cases, Windows comes with a little app called Movie Maker, and it's good enough to get the job done. You might have to go out on the internet and get some free editing software, but for the most part, that's fairly easy to get your hands on.

Most of you may already do that anyway, when you're working on whatever you post on YouTube. You may already have your favorite.

NOTE!

Don't try to overwhelm us with every transition in the Movie Maker app software. Take one transition, use that for everything. Just like you wouldn't want to use 25 different fonts in a blog, don't use every single transition in the box.

Keep it simple, and straightforward, and professional.

Transcribe it!

Then there's one more step if you want to look professional, and we do when we put this blog together, and that is to take a video blog. Actually, you want to transcribe that blog.

That way you have the video blog, and the written version for people to read.

Treat the written version like a written blog, and follow the same style guide that we have prepared for you, for a written blog as well, with the title, and the formatting, and those sorts of things.

That's our style guide for video blogging, and we can't wait to see what you produce.

 

Brian Prawitz is a freelance potato farmer from Roseburg, Oregon. Follow Brian on Twitter @BPraw88 or check out the rest of his blog on his company website www.gobpmedia.com./blog